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Mike Tannenbaum: Trading Saquon Barkley would be a mistake by the Giants

Former NFL executive addresses wide variety of Giants topics on the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast

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Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants
Saquon Barkley
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Trade Saquon Barkley? Former New York Jets general manager and Miami Dolphins executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum on Friday scoffed at the notion the New York Giants should do that during an appearance on the ‘Valentine’s Views’ podcast.

“The object of the exercise is to collect good players who are good people. He’s a dynamic playmaker,” Tannenbaum said. “Why would you move on from a young, talented player who is explosive with the ball in his hands?”

“We could debate till the cows come home how much is he worth, how much do you pay a running back. Those are all great debates and think there’s a way to thread the needle where maybe there’s a hybrid approach with someone like Saquon where if he plays the way he hopes and I’m sure the Giants hope he gets paid commensurate with the market but they have some downside protection because of some durability concerns.”

Tannenbaum went further, pointing out Barkley’s benefit to his quarterback and his organization.

“Here’s a guy that’s in the prime of his career. He scores touchdowns, he’s a great receiver, he makes any quarterback – Mitch Trubisky, Daniel Jones – markedly better and he’s a great, great teammate. I would be hard-pressed to understand how an organization would be better without that player than with him,” Tannenbaum said.

“If we’re building an organization I want more Saquon Barkleys, not less of them. Again, I’m hard-pressed to think how we’re a better team when he’s not on the field than when he is.”

Here are some of the other topics Tannenbaum touched on during the show:

Not a rebuild?

New GM Joe Schoen has been adamant that he doesn’t want to gut the roster and that he hopes to field a competitive team in 2022 while setting the Giants up for a brighter future. Is that realistic? Tannenbaum believes it is.

“I think the challenge for any new regime is to come in and win games and rebuild,” Tannenbaum said.

“If I was running the Giants, those would be my goals. Maybe clean up some of the contracts you’re not happy with but win enough games where you’re competing meaningfully and if things go well make the playoffs in Year 1.

“New York’s a tough market but if you establish yourself in Year 1 that goes a long, long way to having a really good program.”

Tannenbaum pointed to last season’s Philadelphia Eagles, who went 9-8 and made the playoffs in 2021 after going 4-11-1 in 2020. He also pointed to his personal experience with the 1997 New York Jets, who went 9-7 in Bill Parcells’ first year after going 1-15 in 1996.

“The 1996 New York Jets will set a record that will never be broken in the history of North American sports – soccer, basketball, football hockey – which is the 1996 New York Jets won one football game and spent more money than anybody else. It’s almost impossible to do that,” Tannenbaum said. “I saw first-hand that good coaching, a good plan and you can win immediately.”

“I think the world of Brian.”

Tannenbaum lauded new head coach Brian Daboll.

“Brian put together a great staff. I think the world of Brian. I’ve worked with him. He’s a guy that when things go wrong it’s his fault, when things go well it’s because everybody else did a great job. I’m not surprised he was able to put the staff together that he did because he’s a special human being,” Tannenbaum said.

“The No. 1 attribute that I know about Brian Daboll is he’s going to come in and he’s going to make that building better because it’s gonna be about everybody else except for him except when things go wrong, because then it’s going to be his fault. It’s never the word ‘I’, it’s always we and us. I think words matter and I think Brian Daboll’s character is really rare and special.”

Mitchell Trubisky to Giants? Nah!

Tannenbaum believes it isn’t time yet for a move like signing Trubisky, something that is being widely speculated about.

“I would exhaust everything I have in Daniel Jones before I would look outside the building. I think Daniel Jones is intriguing. He’s been far from perfect, we know that. That’s probably one of the reasons Dave Gettleman and Joe Judge amongst others were let go,” Tannenbaum said.

“I would exhaust improvement from within before I start going outside the building. That’s what coaching and problem-solving’s all about.”

Cornerback or pass rusher?

I asked Tannenbaum if cornerback or pass rusher were more important to Wink Martindale’s defensive system. Having experienced the same caution to the wind approach while working with Rex Ryan, Tannenbaum did not hesitate to choose cornerback.

“They want to send more guys than you can block. That puts a premium on having guys that can play man-to-man on the back end,” Tannenbaum said.

“[Cincinnati cornerback] Sauce Gardner really reminds me of Antonio Cromartie in terms of his length and athleticism. He certainly can play man-to-man. To me if you have great difference-making corners that automatically makes you a better pass rushing team because now you can send more defenders.”

[NOTE: There is plenty more in the full interview, including Tannenbaum’s thoughts on edge defenders Travon Walker and Kayvon Thibodeaux, as well as whether or not offensive tackles Charles Cross and Trevor Penning are viable selections with the No. 7 overall pick in the draft. Give the show a listen below.]

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